Matthew Klein does a gross disservice to American history and American conservatism to suggest collective effort and identity have no proper place in either (“A rose by no other name,” Jan. 27).
In the 19th century alone, Klein’s much-vaunted “individualism, self-reliance and enterprise” posed no answer to the monstrous evil of slavery, which required a colossal exertion of state power, collective willpower and bloodshed to finally destroy. It was collective effort and state action that prevailed against fascism and communism, and that wrested civil rights from the teeth of vicious and prolonged opposition.
Yet in his hyperbolic rant, Klein refuses to even consider the possibility that the state may actually protect liberty from those who would deny it to others: freedom of speech, freedom of religion — any one of the rights the founders thought important enough to include in the Constitution. His chief complaint appears to be the redistribution of wealth and the growth of government. These are legitimate concerns in themselves, but hardly enough to justify his sneering contempt for any advocates of government activism and his absurd suggestion that they favor a totalitarian state.
The writer is a senior in Berkeley College.